Hot Fennel Dip

Fennel is the last vegetable in our CSA box that I have to conquer.  I have used it in soups and ratatouille, I have roasted it with cherry tomatoes, and served it alongside grilled salmon.  It just hasn't been a favorite in our house.  Last night we tried a new recipe and it was a winner.  Everyone loved the fennel cooked in a dip similar to hot artichoke dip.  We got the idea from the June issue of Minnesota Monthly.  The dip was one of 5 ways to use fennel.  Next I look forward to caramelizing thin slices with onions and using it on pizza.

For the dip I used:
2 bulbs of fennel and fronds of 1 bulb
2 scallions, whites and greens, chopped
8oz Neufchatel cream cheese
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste

roughly chop the fennel fronds and set aside
cut bulbs into quarters
blanch bulb quarters for 4-5 minutes in boiling water
add fronds for last 1-2 minutes
drain, rinse, and chop into smaller pieces
mix the other ingredients in a bowl reserving a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese
fold in the chopped fennel and top with the remaining cheese
bake in a 350 oven for 25 to 40 minutes, until golden and bubbly

serve with crackers, bread, pita, tortilla chips, or your favorite cut veggies

note:  I think next time I might try subbing yogurt for the mayo
Another modification would be to use some feta in place of some of the parmesan cheese

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